We compared masses of definitive basic and alternate plumages of male Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) to evaluate the hypothesis that nutritional investments in basic and alternate plumages are related to the duration that plumages are worn and to assess the relative costs of prebasic and prealternate molts. Because these plumages are worn by males for approximately equal durations, we predicted that masses of the basic and alternate body plumages would be similar. To assess nutritional stress (demands greater than available resources) associated with molt, we examined the relation between remigial length and structural size and compared predicted and observed plum-age masses of Blue-winged Teal and other ducks. If birds were nutritionally challenged during remigial molt, then we predicted remigial length would be influenced by nutrition rather than size, and remigial length and size would be unrelated. Alternate body plumage of male Blue-winged Teal weighed about 10% more than the basic body plumage; however, masses of both plumages were less than that predicted on the basis of lean body mass. We argue that deviations between observed and predicted plumage masses were related to factors other than nutrition. Further, remigial lengths were significantly, albeit weakly, related to structural size. We therefore concluded that, although the potential for molt-induced stress may be greatest in small-bodied waterfowl species, there was no clear evidence that molting male Blue-winged Teal were nutritionally stressed. ?? The Cooper Ornithological Society 1997.
Additional publication details
Relative costs of prebasic and prealternate molts for male blue-winged teal